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Get to Know Your Vagus Nerve

If you have been following my blog for a while, the concept of the mind-body connection is not new to you. But what exactly connects the mind and body as one? The vagus nerve – “vagus” actually means “wanderer” and this is the link between all our major organs (except our adrenal and thyroid glands) and our brain. The vagus nerve runs from our brain to our stomach, intestines, heart, liver, pancreas, gallbladder, kidneys, spleen, lungs, reproductive organs in women, organs in our neck, and the ears, and tongue. Simply put, it connects our brain to our body. It is critical for optimal health and affects us in numerous ways.

A new science called bioelectronics is emerging in the field of medicine today. In this field, electric impulses are delivered to different parts of our body to treat illnesses. 

Studies are suggesting stimulation of the vagus nerve may have a positive influence on:

– Anxiety and depression and other mood disorders
– Stomach and digestive disorders
– Heart conditions and blood pressure issues
– Migraines
– Memory
– Fibromyalgia
– Alcohol addiction

As the director of our parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest system), the vagus nerve is critical to optimal health. We can stimulate the vagus nerve through heart rate variability (HRV) activities. These include:

1) Take cold showers. Start by ending your daily shower with a blast of cold water over your body for 10 seconds. Try to work up to a full minute.
2) Sing or chant alone or with others. 
3) Practice daily deep belly breathing aiming for 5-6 breaths per minute. 
4) Exercise.
5) Get a massage. 
6) Intermittent fasting.
7) Sleep on your right side. This increases your HRV more than any other sleep position.
8) Gargle or chew gum. These activities activate the muscles in the back of your throat and stimulate the nerve.

Inhibiting the vagus nerve might occasionally be helpful. Especially when experiencing nausea during travel or pregnancy. Enjoying ginger in teas or candy and foods can inhibit the vagus nerve from activating hormone production which can cause queasiness.

The vagus nerve is part of a master communication system. By stimulating it on a daily basis we can enjoy better health, increase our energy levels, and reduce brain fog.
 

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